By Sahil Kapur
Friday, November 20th, 2009
Police arrested 52 students protesting a tuition hike Thursday at the University of California-Davis and held them in jail overnight without food. One was reportedly beaten by police, a source close to the incident tells Raw Story.
The incident took place in the midst of widespread protests at several University of California campuses, in response to the Board of Regents’ decision this week to hike tuition fees by 32 percent starting next academic year.
The protesters held a sit-in in Mrak Hall, an administration building on the UC-Davis campus near Sacramento that the authorities told protesters to vacate by 5 p.m. Thursday evening. Officers from the Yolo County sheriff’s office moved in and arrested those who didn’t comply with the order.
“They were put in the paddy-wagon between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. last night, and they were taken to jail and held all night long without food,” Kristin Koster, who participated in the protests, told Raw Story. Koster, a PhD graduate of the school and a guest lecturer, wasn’t arrested, but followed to the jail those who were, and stayed there until 11 a.m. Friday morning, when the students were released. The students were reportedly only given food at 6 a.m. Friday.
One female protester, accused of attacking the police, was roughed up and held in solitary confinement all night, said Koster, who claimed that the student was in no way assaulting the police. She appears to be the only one harmed in the incident, and was said to be the last person to be released from the jail Friday morning.
“I saw her when she came out and she was completely freaked out and traumatized,” Koster said. “She’s completely falling apart, and parts of her body are hurt from what she went through last night. She’s a little 19-year-old girl who just got cuffed, whipped around and slammed against a car. She’s talking about her hands but she’s mostly just really traumatized. It wasn’t good treatment.”
Koster tried calling the administrators at UC-Davis Friday morning and said “they had no idea where the students were and took no action to find them.”
“If anything, UC-Davis called the cops on their students, and then sent them off to jail in Woodland – in another town – without any legal observers, without any legal help, without notifying parents,” she said.
University of California students have expected this tuition hike for a while, and have grown increasingly unsettled with the structural changes being made to their colleges, such as the cutting of departments and the diminishing reinvestment of their money into education.
“I think it’s clear that we’re not going to have a public university system that’s affordable and accessible anymore,” Koster said, lamenting the cutting of state education funding and the colleges’ increased seeking of private money.
The protests were an inspiring example of students “taking back their education,” she said.